Who’s hot… and who’s not!

Date published: March 17 2015

It is time for our weekly round up of who has their name in lights at the moment…and who is making the headlines for the wrong reasons.

They're on fiiiiirrreeeeeeee!

Wales: An outstanding defensive display from the Welsh as they held out Ireland to keep their hopes of Six Nations glory alive. The phenomenal Luke Charteris topped the tackle count with a Six Nations record of 31, but it was a collective spirit that proved decisive. How Ireland didn't score during that sustained period of rugby in the Welsh 22 remains a mystery, but that is how Championships and dare we say it World Cups are won. Now they must attack Italy.

Highlanders: Such a quiet opening quarter and then the Highlanders exploded into life at the Forsyth Barr, flinging it about and getting those exciting backs Patrick Osborne, Malakai Fekitoa, Ben Smith and newcomer Waisake Naholo right into the game. Four tries, 26 unanswered points against the champions. Point made. Friday's game against the unbeaten Hurricanes should be a thriller.

Exeter: Back-to-back LV= Cup Finals for the Chiefs as their younger stars won 30-22 away at Welford Road on Sunday – always an achievement to win there regardless of the side Leicester put out. In an age where rumours persist that the Premiership are looking to cut off relegation, the Chiefs show what a mistake that might be.

Chiefs backs: As for the other set of Chiefs, the James Lowe show rumbled on in Cape Town with some sensational handling skills and execution from the Waikato side in their 28-19 win. This was also a much-needed victory given the Hurricanes' success on Friday and it lifts them back to the top of the New Zealand Conference on points difference, before facing the Sharks.

Grenoble: It's too early to say whether they will make the play-offs, but after comprehensively seeing off Stade Français on their own patch, Grenoble moved back up to sixth in the Top 14 table. They are flying under the radar but Grenoble look well-placed to play in the post-season for the first time since their return to the top flight.

Julian Savea, Marcell Coetzee and Ben Alexander: Very different styles, but braces for Savea, Coetzee and Alexander this weekend saw them move to the top of the Super Rugby try-scoring charts. They aren't quite on the same pace as Israel Folau a year ago, but Savea looks just as deadly, while Coetzee seems to be the man off the back of the Sharks' rolling maul. Alexander keeps making sure there are free drinks at his bar with Scott Fardy, with three tries now in two games.

Broken Thermostat

England: Winners over Scotland with three tries scored, but England bombed so many chances that it became more of a tussle than it should have been. Work on their finishing is essential if they want any future success, with their potential lack of tries meaning they could miss out on winning the Six Nations title and finish second yet again.

Brrrrrr…. someone get these guys a warm cuppa soup.

Reds: Terrible. Lacking direction in their backline, which was about as makeshift as it could get, with debutants and players out of position. They were always going to get beaten by the Brumbies but to lose to nil – Nick Frisby clearly isn't a goal-kicker – made it worse. Thankfully they have a round off to try and get things right and hopefully some of their injured players return for their game with the Lions.

Scotland: Raised a few eyebrows and stopped the Twickenham crowd from singing Swing Low with their upstart comeback against England, but the defence was incompetent in the opening quarter when England went ahead and remained so as the hosts made 12 line breaks. Stuart Hogg stuck his hand up but otherwise this summed up Scotland's disappointing tournament as they remain bottom.

Julian Redelinghuys: The Lions prop had a torrid time against Wyatt Crockett of the Crusaders on Saturday, coughing up four penalties at the scrum before he was inevitably sin-binned. While off the pitch the hosts scored two tries and the game was over. The Springbok will face easier looseheads, but this was a schooling.

Yvan Watremez: Yoann Huget was rightly ridiculed for his theatrics in January, but even that effort was nothing compared to the Montpellier prop on Saturday when Joe Tekori barely touched him and Watremez threw himself to the ground. After Tekori had been binned, Watremez emerged from the next ruck pouring with blood – perhaps someone was trying to make a point. 

Force: Starting to slide down the table following their fourth loss of the season, this time to the Rebels. The Force in fact haven't won since that opening day shock against the Waratahs. Last season's heroics seem unlikely to be repeated.

Italy: Two weeks ago they were well worth their win in Scotland but it was a giant step back this week as Italy were hammered at home by France. The first half was truly appalling, and while les Bleus improved after the break, it was a miserable afternoon for the Azzurri. With Zebre and Treviso struggling, and Italy's U20s outclassed, it's not a great time to be an Italy fan.

Lasers: On what was a pretty grim afternoon, the low point might have been seeing a green laser aimed at Jules Plisson's eyes in the second half as he lined up a penalty kick. It didn't affect him, but as was the case in Argentina in the Rugby Championship, this is the sort of the behaviour that needs to removed from the game asap.